Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Keeeeeep dancin'...

We were tired out on Monday after a big weekend of moving and a few too many drinks on Sunday night.

The drinks were prompted by irritating ex-marital shenanigans which are too boring to go into details about here. I should have been taking part in the final pub quiz league match but, because of Diarmuid’s non-cooperation, chose not to put my friends and other customers of my old local through any awkwardness and didn’t go. Very annoying and unfair but not that big a deal in the scheme of things.

Anyway, Rich and I ended up going out to our new local instead “for a couple”. It was one of those nights when, after a weekend of hard work, you’re in a good mood, lots of people you know are out and the chat is flowing along with the beer so “a couple” turned into 5 (yikes!!). Suffice to say, the coq au vin liquid did NOT require reducing and the chicken was EXTREMELY tender (ie. fallen off the bone…) by the time it was picked over much later that night….

So that explains why we were under the weather and tired out yesterday. I had picked up a bit by the afternoon but was still not really in the mood for dancing. I know, I know…. But last week the teacher, Tony had hinted at a new series of steps in either the waltz or quickstep and we were too scared of missing a big new sequence NOT to go. Yeah, that’s right folks, we go to dancing every week because we’re genuinely scared we will miss something!!

We hauled our sorry carcasses all the way into Sheffield and were hit by 10 minutes of jiving “to warm up”! Double yikes. I like the jive but it is fast and our concrete legs and befuddled brains were struggling. Luckily after the warm up he launched straight into a long new sequence of waltz steps which, although complicated mentally, was blessedly slow. The new sequence is about as long as the bit we already know so it was initially very daunting. When Tony and Jean first demonstrated it there followed an awed hush and a ripple of applause. Not helped by Jean adding a couple of spins to the end as a kind of flourish!! How intimidating was that??

We then split up into men on one side and women on the other to pace out the steps and learn the sequence. In the women’s section there was much giggling chat and plotting to attend one of the club’s Social Dances on a Saturday night sometime soon. (The men are not keen on this concept yet but we’re working on it collectively and eventually they will crack!). I’m told that in the men’s half the conversation went along the lines of “we may as well get our coats now” and “pub?”. So, a very different approach between Mars and Venus as usual.

Anyway after slowly walking us through the steps and breaking it down into miniscule sections, we eventually got the hang of it and were allowed to dance it through with our partners. It came together and will look really good soon. You feel absurdly pleased with yourselves when one of the teachers walks up and, watching you to make sure you’ve got it straight, says “well done” or “very good”! Talk about reverting to childhood; we were like puppies being praised for weeing on a newspaper!!

We’ve now got a long series of steps involving the basic waltz step (back, side, together), a “whisk and chasse”, a three-point turn (that’s not the proper name for it!!) and a weave step. It looks highly romantic and twirly but I have NO idea how we’re going to manage it going round the room with everyone else trying to do the same. The potential for crashes and bashes is going to be immense. So far we have been learning to do it all going in one direction down the room. This is fine but, as most ballrooms are not 100 metre long tracks, we will eventually have to learn to go round corners with these new twirly steps. This will, I think, place a lot more pressure on the chaps who are (meant to be) leading us. At the moment the women’s steps are generally a bit harder as we have to go backwards and turn and change direction more than the men. The leading stuff and plotting a course round the room is going to put the difficulty factor back on them – good luck boys!!

Rich takes the leading thing quite seriously and I really do try NOT to be too pushy. Trouble is, when you’re both struggling to remember the steps, there’s a fine line between “helping your partner” and leading and also, it’s not always easy to pick up on signals when you’re concentrating so hard yourself on not mucking up. Hey ho. It’ll come and I’m nowhere near as bad as a colleague’s wife who was, he told me, so unable to let him lead that dancing became “all in wrestle mania” and they gave up after 6 or so weeks!!

It’s great though. I’m so pleased we gave it a go (back in September now!) and that we both enjoy it equally. If and when we ever make it to a Social Dance, I will try and have someone take some photos of us in action so you can see just how poor we are!

Excited and exhausted. But mostly excited.

I’m excited because we’ve finally started the process of moving house. Last weekend was Stage 1 which was moving Richard out of his flat in Bamford. After a weekend of work, that stage has now been completed. Although I’m sure he never intended to, he had lived in the flat for around 10 years and it was not a particularly streamlined place. So, there was a lot of stuff to be chucked out and a lot still to be sorted and either sold, donated to charity or thrown away. I was encouraging a slightly more vicious brand of “sorting” but he’s not a natural chucker so we compromised at 2 full van loads to the tip and a Council collection of larger furniture. Not a bad weekend’s work! But there is an alarming room in the new house which is now full of boxes still to be dealt with. Promises have been made……

We move into our new place this coming weekend and that is what I’m really excited about. It is lovely. The sort of place we can stay in for a long time, hopefully . It has a great “feel” to it - big sash windows; high ceilings; working fire places in 4 rooms; plenty of original features; and brand new kitchen, bathroom and heating. Much better than the usual finish for rented property. The landlord is a professional landlord and has loads of properties in Sheffield and several in Bradwell which is where he is from originally. Everyone we have spoken to who knows him says he’s a good bloke and has a lot of time for him so that is good to hear. Also, the house we’re renting was where he was brought up as a child so he seems to have a bit of a soft spot for it. He has made an effort to preserve rather than replace, hence the original front door and windows and the good quality finish.

It is great to have something so positive to look forward to and Rich seems as excited as me about the move. We just have to do it now which will be a pain, more shifting of boxes and furniture and taking apart and putting back together again of the bed….sigh…. Although we have effectively been living together for 6 months now, this new house is going to be “our” place officially (both names on the tenancy agreement) and it feels like a lovely new venture. I’m happy that the things I’m excited about are also the things which he is looking forward to. Last night in the pub, I was chatting to someone but could hear him talking to a mate about the house and saying stuff about having people over for Sunday lunch or supper, having space for visitors and having a garden (once we knock it into shape that is). I can’t wait.

So, although I’m only treading water on the food and exercise front, I’m making great strides on the living my life front and that is a good thing. And shifting boxes is not a bad workout….honest!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Charlie - the cat with 8 lives left

I’m sure a few of you are wondering how the cat we rescued is getting on so I will tell the tale in full.

We were driving back from dancing on Monday night and were nearly at home, just passing through Bamford, when we saw a cat on the side of the road against the kerb. There was something about it that appeared to be alive (although I’m not sure what) so we turned around and came back to find somewhere to park up and see how it was. Just as we were parking, thinking that, no, it was actually dead, it raised its head up from the kerb. I’m not sure if I was happy or sad to be honest but we were committed then to seeing what we could for it.

The cat didn’t appear too bad, not much blood and it was alert but its back legs were not working. It was so sweet and friendly even in its parlous state; didn’t hiss or scratch or fight in any way. While we were crouching over it, though it started to get distressed, panting and trying to crawl away from us so in the end, to stop it trying to move I just picked it up. And that was that, I held the poor mite for the next couple of hours while we drove to various vets in Bradwell and eventually, having found a vet at the third attempt, to her practice’s 24 hour hospital in Sheffield. I was amazed at how good the cat was, just the odd miaow when we stopped but mostly just sitting quiet with its paw on my chest accepting its fate.

Tuesday morning I rang the vets and discovered that the cat was not microchipped – get it done and keep it up-to-date pet-owning folks!! – so we started efforts in Bamford to find the cat’s owner. I sent texts to anyone local I could think of and put messages on Facebook asking people to ask around and spread the word. I was hoping to find them this way to avoid having to go round with leaflets and notices but that would have been the next step. Rich’s sister was a star and went down to the local garage and discovered that she had just missed a woman enquiring about a missing cat. Eventually we heard that the owner and her neighbour had found the cat at the vets and that the cat was a young male (not yet 2) called Charlie.

Both the owner and her elderly neighbour rang me yesterday evening to thank us for looking after him and gave me a progress report. Apparently he has broken his pelvis which is not great but, given that he is a young strong cat, he should go on to make a full recovery. Depending on where the break is, he might not even have to have any surgical intervention and might heal naturally!! Apparently the elderly neighbour has lost her 2 cats in the last year and absolutely dotes on Charlie so she was, if anything, more effusive than his owner in her thanks!!

So, a happy ending, yay!! We both really liked Charlie so we’re hoping to pop round sometime and see him when he’s on the mend and will hopefully be able to sneak a pic so you can see what all the fuss was about. He was a monster of a cat though – a real bruiser. There’s no way someone could have hit him and not realised so shame on the ignorant pig of a driver who drove off and left him on the side of the road!! I wonder what makes someone do such a thing?? Fear? Squeamishness? Not knowing what to do? Not giving a d*mn? Pure selfishness? Who knows.

We were hesitant about stopping to be honest; there’s that uncertainty of not knowing what you’re getting yourself into. But I’m glad we did. What are a late night and a couple of hours of inconvenience (and 40 miles' worth of diesel I can hear Richard saying!!) when set against a trusting cat’s lonely death or suffering on the side of a road and a grieving owner?? Absolutely nothing. And there's always the selfish belief in Karma - if I do this, someone else might do something similar for my dogs one day....

I’ve not previously been very aware of cats having always been “a dog person” but now, having read about Isabelle’s and Rachel’s beloveds and having got to know Rich’s cat, Jess (who now lives with his former neighbour) I’m much more appreciative of what they offer. I’m not sure I would enjoy the stress of having an adventurous, outgoing pet who roamed around at will amid cars and God knows what else though. I like knowing where my girls are, tucked up safe and sound at home!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Time for Action

I have purposefully had a quiet week to 10 days and not been hard on myself for not doing much in the way of exercise and it has been beneficial I think. I had been feeling tired and under pressure with everything getting to me. Now I feel much more relaxed and optimistic about the near future. It’s strange - I feel as though I’ve been away on holiday even though I’ve just been ploughing away as usual.

However, I’m now ready and actually wanting to really knuckle down and a) do lots of exercise and b) stop eating too much!!

So, the first step is to get back to regular exercise. Getting over my distaste of going swimming for a start. I know when I go that I will enjoy it so I am pledging to go this lunchtime.

The next thing I MUST do is stop snacking at work. It is leading me into bad habits and adding hundreds of extra calories to each day. Not good. Luckily the snacking opportunities today are not brilliant so I’m going to set a mini-target of NOTHING today (Monday).

Thirdly is to cut back on the drinking. I went to the pub quiz yesterday and had 4 pints of bitter! 4!! And I had at least that watching the football on Sky on Saturday evening followed by wine and a chinese takeaway so, as you can see, things have been getting out of hand. So, no booze all week methinks.

I’m also toying with the idea of Slimming World or part-packs for a hit to get a quick stone off and get me ready for summer. The part-packs was going to be something fairly low-key like packs for breakfast and lunch 5 days a week followed by normal supper etc and loosening up at weekends but still limiting the booze and treats. I think I’m going to give it a go this week and if it goes well will aim for a 4 week bootcamp to get me back on track. If it doesn’t go well, I will go back to SW which will be longer term.

So, that's settled, a one-week trial of part-packs. I can do anything for one week!!! (That takes me back - it was the mantra I used when I started Lighter Life – “I can do anything for 14 weeks”!)

In other news, we had a lovely weekend with my sister-in-law and nephew. They are fun guests. We took them to Castleton for a wander around when they arrived Saturday afternoon. Lachlan fancied the show cave there – The Devil’s A**e! – but there was no way Hadi was going into a cave so we ended up splitting up into boys (cave) and girls (poking round little shops and cafes). Then early evening in the pub watching Sheffield Wednesday lose to Southampton on Sky (blegh!) and keeping an eye out for England losing to Ireland at the rugby (double blegh!). Followed by a chinese takeaway and film. Very pleasant and convivial. Lachlan was in seventh heaven to have fast broadband and Sky TV after a few days in the technological wasteland which is his grandparents so didn’t mind having to sleep on the sofa!!

They left Sunday afternoon and Rich and I took the dogs for a good long tramp which was very refreshing. I cooked a rather nice new recipe of my own devising – a sort of beef carbonnade but with light ale, grain mustard and chorizo instead of lardons (it was all I had). It had a sort of sweetish, Spanish flavour and was delicious!! This set me up nicely for a triumphant evening with my pub quiz team – we were away to local rivals and had a purple streak – we just knew everything and what we didn’t know we guessed, usually correctly. It was amazing. We scored our biggest ever total of 71 points (the league record this season) and beat them 71-36!! And we won the beer round (hence the over-consumption!).

So, all in all, life proceeding very nicely but looking forward to being a bit thinner and getting on with doing something about it. And – dancing this evening – yay!!!

Update - I typed the above this morning with the intention of posting it Yesterday evening. Around 12 o'clock my day took a turn for the worse with an important job going wrong unexpectedly and very quickly. So, I couldn't go swimming and was in fire-fighting mode for the rest of the day. I was good food-wise though; I didn't use the crisis as an excuse to pig out and resisted the snack table with no exceptions. I also purchased some packs to get me started tomorrow so we will see. I got away in time for dancing though and had a really good night (apart from the quickstep which was too knackering right at the end!).

We didn't get home 'til late though as just a few miles from home we saw an injured cat on the side of the road. It was alert but couldn't walk. So that entailed 90 minutes of driving around trying to find a vet then taking it into Sheffield to a 24 hour vet hospital. That's a long time to spend with a stressed, injured but very sweet cat on my lap. I hope he or she makes it through and will let you know when we hear what has happened. I'm facebooking and texting away to try and locate the owner and will put up notices and leaflets this evening if no news (don't have time this morning).

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Bradwell Spring Medley

I think spring is just about here in the Peak District. we're several weeks behind most of the country and it's only early signs but very welcome ones.

I went for a walk on Friday lunchtime in the glorious sunshine and took some pics to prove it. You cant see in this shot but there are several paragliders out off Abney and Bradwell Edge. As it was a weekday, only a few but yesterday (Saturday) I counted over 30 off Bradwell Edge!! Nutters!
Looking back towards Bradwell with Win Hill (left), Bamford Edge (centre) and Bradwell Edge in the foreground on the right.

Gorgeous sunshine.

There are loads of mysterious looking caves in the limestone landscape. I often wonder whether anyone has explored them all or whether they are just "there".

The view towards Windmill and Great Hucklow.
I've no idea what they're investigating in the verge but, whatever it is, they never tire of it!

Sunny but still very cold so this horse is probably pleased to be well wrapped up.

Minty always "has words" with this Collie as she passes and the Collie is pleased to reciprocate. I hope the gate is never left open.

Tasty, chunky looking spring lambs....mmmmm.......
These were the first daffs I had seen in bloom, tiny little narcissi. Today there are loads out but I always love the brave first bloomers.

I love this bank of crocuses. Who planted them in this little nothingy spot? Whoever it was, I'm glad they made the effort.
Jacob sheep with spiky horns. Strangely Minty always gives them a wide berth.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A quiet week...sort of....

After the success of my quiet weekend last weekend, I've followed it up with a relatively quiet week. I have been shamefully poor at doing any exercise but, to be honest, have quite enjoyed a week off. I'm not beating myself up about not doing anything all week but I'm looking forward to getting going again next week.

So, what have I done? Monday night was dancing so I suppose I have done some exercise after all. No new steps, just revised the cha cha, tango and samba. Rich hates the samba but I thnik we might have had a bit of a break through....at last!

Tuesday night was football - a home game against Peterborough. I went up to my friend Kerry's house straight from work for supper and we were most healthy. Thai Green vegetable curry with low fat coconut milk - healthy and very tasty. I've not been up to Kerry's before and think this is the first time we've spent an evening together without Jimbo so it was nice to find out that we got on really well. Nice to make new friends even at this great age!!

See me chatting on about anything but the football! That's because it was DIRE! We lost 4-1 at home to a side which was relegated with us last year. How come they are doing so well and we are struggling so badly?? Hey ho - hopefully we won't be relegated again and can re-build next year. Rich was in a grumpy mood as he hadn't even wanted to go to the game (this is very rare and a symptom of just how bad they are) but had ended up driving his dad and sister to the game....not happy to see us lose so badly...

Wednesday was a really hard day at work - long hours, lots of high stress meetings where you have to be on top form all the time and lots of work coming out of them. And on top of that, a nasty letter from D's solicitor just to put the cherry on the top of a horrid day. So despite the plans to go for a run, all I was fit for was cooking supper and settling into a bottle of wine and a cuddle on the sofa.

Thursday was a few early door drinks with friends with children and then later back to the same pub for a night out at darts and dominos. I didn't drink more than a couple of halves but had a really nice night chatting with lots of folk from my old village.

Friday was working from home (finally got some drafting done without interruption from all and sundry) and then an early finish to play 9 holes of golf with Rich and his pal Brian. What a glorious afternoon/evening it was - sunny, crisp, beautiful. usually we have a small bet on a game even if we're only playing a friendly round but for some reason didn't do this last night. Typical! I played the best I ever have at Rich's course and beat them handily but didn't have the satisfaction of taking any money off them....grrr. Still, lovely to play well early on in the season.

Then a really nice few drinks in the White Hart last night which we try not to do every Friday but which is lovely and friendly and you never know who you're going to end up chatting to. Last night our love of dogs led us into conversation with some holiday makers. They had the most enormous Italian mastiff type dog. It wasn't a mastiff but of that ilk. A Cane Corsa or something?? It looked like an ancient breed. I'm sure I've seem old roman pictures of dogs just like it - huge, muscular and with absolutely giant heads! This one, Jeff, was a massive softie but I wouldn't like to try and stop him doing anything he was of a mind to do!! The couple had rescued him from a shelter aged 18 months as his previous owners had underestimated how tough it would be looking after such a massive, strong creature. He had apparently been only a day or so off being put down!!

Today has been all about chores. My sister in law, Hadi and nephew Lachlan are due any time now so it's been cleaning and shopping in readiness for them. I was happy to discover that, because I started early, I was able to meet my pal Paula for an hour's walk this morning. we took our 3 dogs (all cocker spaniels and all beautiful!) up the big hill behind my house and had a lovely chat before getting back to the grindstone again.

So, all in all, a mellow, productive and pleasant week. Taking it relatively easy but still doing nice stuff and generally being kind to myself.

I feel ready for proper exercise again and proper dieting too. In fact I feel ready for anything!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Keep it Simple Stupid

Having re-read my last post (“Ups and Downs”) and my last but one post (“Be careful what you wish for…”), I deliberately decided to have a quiet, steady weekend and not overburden myself with chores or social activities. I got my weekly shop out of the way on Friday lunchtime at the supermarket rather than cramming it into Saturday morning in the local shops. Much as I prefer the butcher, baker, fruit shop in a nearby village to the monolithic maw of the Morrisons, every now and then a supermarket is handy and you do get a lot more for your money. I also didn’t arrange to meet up with anyone which I often do, reasoning that I could do without the rushing about.

We didn’t go out on Friday night and, although I usually like a few in the White Hart on a Friday evening, last week it was nice just to stay at home and chill with a bottle of wine.

Saturday morning was lovely – instead of fitting in all the shopping and unloading, I flitted through a couple of minor “nice” chores then popped up to the house we’re renting in a few weeks’ time. The painters were in and were happy to let me wander around with a tape measure. I’ve seen it before of course but now that it’s part way through being painted, it looks great. I’m so excited about moving in and getting cracking on furnishing and decorating to my heart’s content (on a shoestring of course but that just makes it more fun!).

Saturday afternoon we went to the football. Great to meet up with friends in the pub and have some banter. Not so great to have to sit through the turgid, miserable offering that is Sheffield Wednesday these days. A grotty 0-1 defeat. Blegh! Then back to Rich’s dad’s for supper and another quiet night in – and no cooking – yay!!

Sunday was a lot more energetic. Rich’s brother had suggested a game of golf at a nice course about 40 minutes away on the way to Manchester – Shrigley Hall. Great idea. But not at 8.40 on a Sunday morning in the rain! He needed to play early due to childcare stuff but in the end we didn’t play with his group anyway but with some of our friends from the Valley so there was no need to play at that Godforsaken time! Very annoyingly (who gets up at 6am on Sunday??) it was raining early on so we had 7 or so holes in the wet and cold. It then cleared up and turned into the most gorgeous, sunny, blue-sky day you can imagine. This was most welcome but just emphasized what a lovely day we would have had if we’d played at a more civilised hour….grumble grumble grumble….

That said, it was great to be out on a golf course again. I haven’t played since Christmas. I didn’t do too badly either. Had a few good holes and a birdie which is always gratifying on a new course. I really want to play the course in the summer as it looks beautiful nestling on the side of the Peaks overlooking the Cheshire Plain and Manchester. Stunning views and lovely wooded valleys and streams. An interesting, tricky course too but very generous to female golfers so that I had some excellent tee positions compared to the men, a fact which I took full advantage of!! My partner and I beat Rich and his partner handily and took the whitewash dosh off them with big smirks on our faces – £2 each for the front nice, back nine, overall and a birdie to boot!!

I took the dogs out in the sunshine in the afternoon for some rather token hill walking training but Rich stayed on the sofa watching the rugby – slug! I was quite pleased that our team had a bye so there no quiz in the evening. All the more time to cook and eat a well-earned roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and then snuggle up on the sofa with Rich and the dogs to watch golf on TV.

My dad rang for a chat in the evening. We had a really good long conversation during which I managed to air a few of the things which have been niggling at me and also seemed to be able to reassure him that my life has not collapsed just because of the divorce and that it is, in fact, a good thing. All in all a lovely relaxing and pressure free weekend. Just what I needed.

And then I’ve had some lovely supportive comments to my last post so know that I’ve got pals when I need them too. Thanks a lot – as you probably know from your own experience, the friendly words really do help. Mwah!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Ups and Downs...

My recent posts (and my life) seem to be veering rather wildly from one emotion to another. I have felt alternately: happy and positive; glum and teary; stressed; relaxed; chirpy; thin; fat…. All within the space of a few weeks. Mrs L texted me yesterday in her own inimitable style and pointed out that “There is a LOT going on with big rapid changes…that my chimp/sub-conscious is likely to be freaking out which is a) normal and b) to be expected”. She said she knew that I’d be trying to be positive and practical (which I am) but that I should acknowledge these big changes and allow myself to freak out about them (I’m paraphrasing, her text was much better).

Everything she said, I knew in theory but, until I read it from an objective (sort of, she is a bit of a cheerleader!!) source from outside my bubble, it hadn’t really sunk in.

Yes, I’m going through a lot at the moment:

1. A difficult divorce in which my feet are not on solid ground and a lot of the time I don’t know what is going on.

2. The divorce impacting on my financial situation creating money worries which will hopefully be temporary but which prey on one’s mind.

3. Forging a new relationship, which is lovely in one sense – that gorgeous, new, in-love stage – but is difficult in another as it has come later on in life when relationships seem to carry more weight than in one’s youth and very soon after my defunct marriage.

4. Fitting that new relationship into my old life of friends and family.

5. Forging new relationships with my friends and family as this “new” person who has stepped out of their comfort zone and done this extraordinary thing of upsetting her life’s applecart, apparently on a whim (and most inconveniently for several of them….).

6. Having to find a new place to live (which will be affordable and will take dogs) under time pressures and contemplating building a home with Richard in that new place.

7. Coping with a suddenly much more demanding job in the public sector where the threat of job cuts and wage reductions hovers over everyone like the sword of Damocles, funding for projects is scarce, support is non-existent and much, much more is being expected of me professionally.

Put like that, of course I’m a bit of a bleater at the moment. And of course my emotions are going to be changeable and fragile. I’m trying to be strong but also to ask for help when I need it. I’m leaning on Richard a lot and he has been there for me. But I do feel quite needy and fragile so seem to want more reassurance and extra “stroking” than I would normally need. I’ve tried to express this need and hopefully I’ll settle down and he’ll step up and we’ll meet in the middle.

And in the midst of all this I’m trying to lose weight and get fit so that I don’t pile on the lbs and so that I can successfully complete the Three Peaks Challenge in July. Maybe it’s a silly thing to do. Maybe I should just forget about it but I don’t think so. If you let the weight and fitness stuff go every time life throws some challenges at you, you just have a worse problem to deal with later and probably lower self-esteem with which to do so! So, at the very least I need to be implementing damage limitation measures. But always, being kind to myself and recognising that I’m not trying to be perfect and that my weight and fitness are not reflections of my worth they are just that, weight and fitness!

And my friends in real life and online have been great in helping me. I’m, once again, soooo pleased that I started this blogging business back in 2007. Wonder where I’d be if I hadn’t??

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Why have I been struggling to lose weight this time round?

Well, I’ve already identified Big Nights Out so that’s one reason.

Then there’s the works goodies. I seem to be having difficulty NOT eating the stuff from the cake table.

I’m eating generally larger lunches now that I bring sandwiches in than when I was eating Boots Meal Deals with sushi and yoghurt. Perhaps time to revert to those.

More booze in the evening although we valiantly resisted a bottle of wine or any beer last night. When I say “we” last night it was Richard who resisted and I just went along with the resisting…..hmmm

It’s not that I’m not doing lots of exercise ‘cos I am so it is the food to blame. Even 250 calories extra per day will translate into a small gain, say 1-2 lb a month. How easy is it to slide an extra 250 calories into your day on a regular basis??

So – instead of losing weight since January, I’ve gained a bit (well, I’m hoping that I’ve lost the gain but it’s still annoying). Even though I have just identified the reasons above, what I want to do is make excuses and blame the season, the dark nights, the weather and the fact that “I always” gain weight in January and February. The fact that, although I’m generally happy and enjoying life, there are difficult times and stresses associated with going through a bitter divorce. No Lesley – the fact is that you have been eating more than you’ve been burning off. You “always” gain weight when you do that!!

What is the answer? Vigilance. A food diary for at least a week. Blegh, but it will be revealing and hopefully stop the rot and start me off on genuine losing so I can genuinely get down into the 12’s by the summer. How nice would that be?

In other news, due to not-so-lovely marital issues, I had to go to the former home and remove my remaining clothes. I had left some summer stuff, clothes that no longer fit and evening/wedding wear in the wardrobe in the spare room. This had apparently become intolerable to D so, when I went to retrieve them, I found them screwed up in a heap in a dusty corner of the spare room with any random stuff of mine, including make-up tipped all over the pile. It was very upsetting to be honest, especially seeing the evening dresses covered in blusher and lipstick.

However, now that I have them all with me, it has been a wake-up call. I realise how far I have left that slim size 12 behind. I’m not sure I ever want to go back to that weight as it seemed unrealistic to maintain it and many people have told me that I looked too thin at that time but maybe that is a self-serving argument. I definitely don’t want to leave the size 14 dream behind and I’m heading that way if I don’t cop on. So I’m going to use the nice, smaller sized clothes as an incentive; to make sure that I keep trying on the more accessible ones to keep me excited about losing and appreciating getting out of my more “comfortable” attire. I’m definitely at the fat end of my wardrobe at the moment, still no bigger than a size 16 but I don’t want to push my luck.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

Pictures from our walk last Sunday - a brilliant sunny afternoon in the White Peak. It's a totally different environment to the Dark Peak, all limestone walls and pasture land rather than gritstone and heather moorland.
Stark but beautiful in its own way. The Hills in the distance below are part of the Dark Peak - Win Hill and Bamford Edge.

This is the Lafarge Quarry at Castleton. It's a classic blot on the landscape but provides work, pensions and social facilities in the middle of the High Peak so not to be sniffed at.

The view toward Castleton with Mam Tor in the background.

I have been guilty recently of wishing my life away. Wanting to get onto the next stage and not necessarily appreciating what I’m doing in the here and now. It might be something to do with the season I suppose. I know everyone is supposed to love spring and I do, I do but I’m not so keen on the phony faux-spring. Where you feel as though spring is neeeaarly here but in reality nothing has changed beyond a bank of snowdrops and cheap daffs at the corner shop. So, you spend your days yearning for warm, light evenings and sunshine but they’re still months away.

Well, I’m a bit like that in the rest of my life at the moment. We’re moving house at the end of the month and now, finally the date is set and we’ve secured the place we really wanted. This is great news but the work involved in our getting into the house is daunting to say the least. Packing up my current house will be bad enough (and we’ve only been in for 6 months!!) but Richard has been in his flat for 10 years and needs to get that emptied packed up by the end of the month as well. Yikes! So I’m fast-forwarding to the point when we’re actually in the house and can enjoy life.

But of course nothing is that simple. I still need to do a load of works to the old house so that it can go on the market in April. I had taken a week off this month to make a start but life intervened. D had drained down the system so no water or heating and didn’t respond to my queries about rebooting it. So that was that opportunity to make concrete progress stymied. So that means I’m fast-forwarding again to when I can get on with those works which will probably be at the beginning of April. Frustration and delay.

Then there’s the Three Peaks Challenge. We’re booking weekends through April, May and June in readiness for the big event in July. All of which points forward. Although this matter is much, much more pleasurable than moving house or selling a house, believe me.

And finally there’s my weight. I’ve been blithely looking ahead to the point when I will be miraculously thinner and fitter. Expecting this to somehow happen. But I haven’t really been putting in the work to make it happen. Not living in the present. So, obviously, I’ve not made any real progress. I’ve not gained or anything but have hardly lost anything either. It requires real commitment, not just dreaming about the future, Lesley!

So, I sound a bit glum don’t I? But I’m not, not really. Just a bit overwhelmed by how much I have on my plate. Yesterday I felt genuinely glum and work was very hard but I told Rich and, when I got home, had a massive hug and lovely quiet evening in with a bottle of wine and football on the telly (Bah! Blasted ref in the Barcelona-Arsenal game…!) and now I feel much stronger. And Monday night was dancing. You really have to live in the present at dance class!! We did new steps in the cha cha…quite a long, complicated sequence and it was brilliant to re-connect with the dance we started off on learning on that very first day. We’re playing golf on Sunday morning with his brother. The dogs are loving all the training walks. Work is busy but interesting. We saw friends at the weekend. There are loads of things to be grateful for and to enjoy so I just need occasionally to lower my eyes from the horizon and look at what I have in my hands.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

February "mid-term" report and house hunting update

Some pics from our walk last Sunday. Just started - halfway up Win Hill "admiring the view" or possibly taking a crafty breather...
Most of the team at the top of Win Hill - Tom, Rich, me, Sarah and Minty.

Now with added canine - Shelagh and Jacob. Minty being very suspicious of Jacob....and vice versa...

Halfway up Lose Hill - very muddy and very windy.

Didn't seem to bother the girls though...

The lovely view of Win Hill from Lose Hill.
Me and Tom at the top of Lose Hill waiting for the others...tee hee...

The whole team at the top of Lose Hill.

Rich and Shelagh.

Then we forgot her while we went to admire the rainbow!!

And then the sunshine came out...

But it didn't stop me slipping over in the mud!!

The offending mud.

And our final reward - a pint and roast pork....

So, how did I get on in the eternal battle in February? Well, better than in January so that is progress although not particularly stellar progress. In January I failed to lose any and, in fact, gained 2. In February I have lost 2, maybe 3 lbs depending on where it settles at. So, downward progress which I will take but I do want to accelerate the rate of progress.

I have definitely re-established a good pattern of exercise which I am finding easier and easier as the nights get lighter and the weather (marginally) warmer. I had never stopped exercising but the frequency had fallen off in the dark winter days. Now I’m back to a steady and consistent 5, usually 6 lots of exercise per week and am upping the intensity of that exercise. Last week, for example, I managed: personal training on Thursday; rest day Friday; hilly (and cold and wet) run on Saturday morning; long, hilly walk on Sunday; dancing on Monday; run on Tuesday evening; gym Wednesday and back to personal training today. Not bad....

It’s been good in that I’m varying what I do quite a lot – hill-walking, dancing, gym, personal training, running and maybe swimming will come back eventually. I’m also doing some of this with Richard which means it’s more sustainable. Yesterday, for example, I was pushing him to go to the gym in the evening but last week it was the other way around. I don’t mind going when he’s with me but it’s a lot harder to go when you want to have supper together and not waste your rare spare evening in in different places. for the record we went and did an hour but his heart really wasn't in it...still, we went!

My food intake is better too. I’m managing to eat my sensible muesli breakfast and low-cal sushi lunch more often than I could manage in December/January and having fewer treats.

So, what is stopping me from dropping more weight? It’s pretty simple – big nights out! I’m having too many of these and they are tending to be pretty big. So where I might previously have had a big night out involving unlimited booze and/or food once a month, if that, recently it has been nearly every week. So all the good work of the previous week is undone by a session on the beer/cider/wine followed by some heinous food crime like a kebab, fish and chips, burger and chips or something equally sinful. I’m making all that effort and ultimately just treading water.

I suppose the point is that Rich and I are having a lot of fun. Going out with friends, going out with each other, going to away games..… It’s great but the excess is derailing me. I need to remember that I don’t need to go all the way every time and can still have a decent night without throwing all restraint out of the window. At least I used to be able to. I really don’t need the end-of-evening kebab/burger just because I can. I could cut out a few of the beers and swap to shorts and diet mixers or wine and soda. I could be more organised to make sure we eat sensible stuff before we go out so I don’t fall for the fast food trap.

Treading water would all be fine and dandy if I were happy with my figure as it is but I’m not really. I do want to actually lose a stone at least and know that it would help my health, fitness, the Three Peaks Challenge, golf and make me happier in the summer when I want to wear shorts and skirts so it is worth putting the effort in now.

So that’s me told!

Anyway, back to house news. I'm very excited as the house which I was beginning to think was going to evade us looks like it will come through after all. It's a good-sized 3 bed Victorian semi with a decent size garden. It is also in the village we'd prefer to live in, where we are now, Bradwell so we will not have to change pubs or dog walkers, again!

It's much more spacious than our current cottage and on a quieter, wider street. Where now we're crammed into a maze of higgledy-piggledy cottages on a steep hill with little lanes and snickets everywhere and everyone squeezing their cars in wherever they can, this street is entirely more genteel. Most house have driveways and garages (we don't, well, we do but the landlord has let the neighbour have OUR garage!) so, although we still have to park on the street, it is a much wider street and there shouldn't be the same pressure for space. The rooms are in a nice proportion (the Victorian were good for that in general) and it's just been totally overhauled so we'll have brand new carpets, newly plastered and painted walls, new bathroom, kitchen and heating. Yay!

The best thing for us though is the basement room - a giant downstairs utility kitchen which will be perfect for muddy dogs, boots and coats, golf clubs, mountain bikes and storage. It opens out onto the back yard which I think we will be able to secure so the dogs will have a run in the daytime. The upstairs kitchen, which opens straight out onto the dining room can be kept clear of all the doggie mess and washing stuff and will be a general living room leaving the front room as more of an evening parlour...a bit old-fashioned perhaps but a nice way to live. I'm looking forward to having enough space to have people round and to stay, in other words, not living like a student/young professional any more and getting back to being a grown up again! Rich might not know what has hit him!!

We have a very busy month of March ahead of us. Rich has to sort his flat out and get ready to move and I will have to do likewise with the cottage. We also have 5 home games at Hillsborough to fit in, 3 on a Tuesday evening and 2 Saturday afternoons. Then there's the training walks, my sister-in-law and nephew visiting the weekend after next and God knows what else. Time - we need more time!! And less booze/food.....